ASU's Ejdervik Aims To Defend Title
By Haley Hirai
It was fall 2008 when Rebecca Ejdervik left her snowy home of Sweden and arrived with only two suitcases in sunny Arizona.
"I got everything new. We went to IKEA. It felt like home anyways," said Ejdervik, the All-American ASU junior and reigning Pac-10 100-breast champion.
A native of Vallentuna, Sweden, Ejdervik came to ASU to develop her swimming career and education at the same time. The adjustment to a new country, school, and life was challenging, but well worth it she said.
"The culture here is so different from back home. I moved away from my parents to the other side of the globe. It's hard for every college student to adjust, but I left my country, language, and culture," said Ejdervik.
Although Ejdervik had studied English as a second language since she was eight years old, she never used it on a daily basis until she arrived at ASU. She noticed subtle differences in the way people interact with each other in American culture.
"Everyone is so open. People talk to strangers, talk with each other on the bus, and talk with anyone to make friends easily. At home, people are a lot more sheltered, not in a bad way, but just keep to themselves more," she said.
Ejdervik describes her hometown of Vallentuna as an average Swedish community, on the outskirts of Sweden's capital city, Stockholm. Athletics have always been a big part of her family's life, as her father Haikan is a cross-country runner and her younger sister Victoria, 21, is earning her degree in sports management.
Ejdervik's ties to her family remain strong. She travels to Sweden every summer and holiday break, and returns to Arizona with Swedish fish to share with her teammates. To keep her friends and family in Vallentuna up to date with her American college life, Ejdervik started writing a blog. She writes in Swedish about her life as a student-athlete, and differences she notices between American and Swedish culture. "It started out small, but a lot of people are reading it back home," she said.
"I also have a new family here with my roommates," she said. Ejdervik has lived with Elina Eggers, a Swedish ASU diver since they were first paired together during their freshman year. The two teammates live with another Swedish student.
According to head coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker, Eggers and Ejdervik motivate each other in the sport and in the classroom. "Both of them find a comfort zone in the other. It is a unique situation in which they are both positive, and helped each other make the transition as quick and easy as possible," Tierney-Walker said.
Majoring in global governance, Ejdervik plans to continue her education and earn her master's degree in international relations or a similar field after graduation. She dreams of working internationally for the U.S. consular offices in Geneva or Vienna, a dream she has already put in motion.
Ejdervik interns at Arizona's Swedish Consulate, where she is working on coordinating a fall event with a Swedish band. She hopes they will perform in Phoenix and tour the West Coast. "We want to show Swedish culture, food, and music. This is the field I want to get into, so it's the perfect opportunity for me," she said.
"Rebecca is a perfectionist in every aspect of her life," said Tierney-Walker. "She is striving to maximize her potential in whatever path she's taking, athletically or academically. Rebecca is one of those quiet leaders. She's very well respected with a tremendous work ethic, and she is a fantastic teammate. She's the type of person that always thinks of her teammates before herself."
Already qualified for the NCAA Championships and the Swedish world championship team, Ejdervik has arrived at another career milestone, the upcoming Pac-10 Swimming Championships.
"I want to defend my title from last year. The Pac-10 Conference is one of the best in the country," she said. "The championship is a big step. It is the most exciting event of the whole year. The energy, the excitement, that's when you know you really love swimming."